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Ron Arad discusses Matrizia’s past and design approach

Conversation with   |  

Matrizia has quite interesting origins that perfectly encapsulate Ron Arad’s design skill and intuition. Patrizia Moroso and Ron were hosting a talk about design process at a venue during Design Miami. It was a discussion about the birth of a concept, its refinement, and the steps that lead to its production. Little did anyone know that Ron had a surprise up his sleeve.

The audience became a witness of the design process, breaking the 4th wall; Ron Arad suggested an experiment and asked if they wanted to see him pitch a new product to Patrizia. The response was a choral, resounding “Yes”. He then unveiled his new project to both Patrizia and the audience, Matrizia: a mattress for Patrizia.

He shared the images of his inspiration, its refinement, and concepts with everyone present. The piece was ambitious, bold, and challenging, perfectly in line with Ron’s previous works, and Patrizia welcomed the project with open arms.

Works × More-So:

Interview by Omar Moroso

After being presented in 2015, Matrizia finally found a home within More-So in a collector’s edition. Ron Arad talks about this project illustrating its origins and the thought process behind its unique look and feel.
An early model of the 2015 Matrizia sofa.
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An early model of the 2015 Matrizia sofa.
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An early model of the 2015 Matrizia sofa.
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The shape was meticulously carved out of a single block of foam following Ron’s design.
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The shape was meticulously carved out of a single block of foam following Ron’s design.
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The shape was meticulously carved out of a single block of foam following Ron’s design.
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The first Matrizia prototype was hand-crafted by Marino from start to finish.
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The first Matrizia prototype was hand-crafted by Marino from start to finish.
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The first Matrizia prototype was hand-crafted by Marino from start to finish.
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The first Matrizia prototype was hand-crafted by Marino from start to finish.
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Ron, Matrizia has a peculiar story, from its ideation to its inclusion in More-So. Can you give us a brief history of this project?


Like many ideas, different things trigger them. It could be anything, but with Matrizia it was more obvious. Walking in the streets, seeing a folded mattress that someone threw away and thinking: “Oh that could make a nice sofa!” Ideas are not the problem, there are many millions of them. The problem is: which ideas do you give time to? Which ideas do you invest in? And which ideas do you let go? But ideas are no problem, there are too many ideas in the world, at least in my world. But this was too good to let go, so I went home and started making drawings of it. How, if you fold the mattress in a certain way, it could make a nice domestic sofa that also brings memories of things, and it’s also a found object.

The discarded sofa that inspired Matrizia. Courtesy of Ron Arad Associates.

The “Found Object” has been a big part of my history and what I have done, starting from the Rover Car Seat and lots of other things. Ready-mades and Found Objects have been very active components in my work and when I walked in the streets and saw this thing it was so obvious that it had to be taken. Its like when you walk in the streets and immediately find something that you have to take home physically, but sometimes also mentally. I quite enjoyed doing sketches of the piece, of what it could look like, and that was shortly before I had a conference with Patrizia in Miami, and I thought: what I’ll do when we give a talk together is present the idea to her in public. She would hear it at the same time as the audience and I would hear her reaction to it for the first time with the public. It was a nice sort of performance or experiment that worked really well! She loved it and I loved her reaction, and then we started working on it.


Of course, there are so many different ways of doing it and at the time there was still a sort of debate in Moroso, trying to find a way to work with artisans like Uncle Marino, who is very good at modelling things in foam with a knife, like a Michelangelo but with foam instead of marble. I had enjoyed working with him on many things in the past, but computers were starting to take over and you had to decide who do you let lead: the artisan with the knife or the CNC machine. I loved both. I love technology and I love artisans. Recently I did a lot of work on woven fabrics with jacquard and the weaving industry, the first industry that employed computers before the car industry. I enjoyed seeing the sketch woven by machines that chose the colours; just excellent. That doesn’t mean to say that I didn’t really enjoy working with weavers in Senegal when we did the Modou collection. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I enjoy both of them. There are definitely things that artisans can contribute those machines definitely can’t. I love both and Matrizia found itself in this debate. I remember I had to go and persuade Zio (uncle in Italian) Marino, who was very “incazzato” (pissed off in Italian) about the other ways of doing things, so I had to go to his home and say “Look Marino…”.

Anyway, somehow and very quickly, we made a really nice mock-up, sample or prototype but it was shelved for a long time and now I think it’s maybe time to take it out. I know that More-So now worked with Paola Pivi and mattresses, and there are a lot of mattresses in a lot of places in the history of art and design. I’m really happy that after a long time we decided to take it off the shelf and put it on the floor. The name of course is because of Patrizia, Matrizia-Patrizia. Sometimes I interfere with language, so I took a gamble there, but it worked.


(Zio Marino is Patrizia Moroso’s uncle and had been working in Moroso since its early days. While working for Moroso, Marino assisted Ron on a number of projects and developed a strong sense of respect for his work. Just as Ron mentioned, his skill in shaping foam was unrivalled and he wanted to contribute his craft for another of Ron’s works and be an active part in the development of Matrizia. Sadly, this caused the attrition that Ron talks about above, and even if Marino is now in retirement, his passion for design and manufacturing is still strong as ever).

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Matrizia has a unique appearance and backstory. How does it express your design approach and what do you want Matrizia to express?


It’s two things: it’s a sofa and if you sit on it, it needs to be comfortable. You don’t forgive a piece that just looks beautiful, but if it’s made to be sat on, it has to be good to sit on. It has to be better than other things. Also, it is some sort of representational sculpture of a folded mattress when you see it, with no doubt in your mind: “Yeah that’s what it is, it’s a folded mattress”. Ever since I made Matrizia I can’t help it, but even yesterday I walked in the streets and I saw a discarded mattress. In earlier days I would take my phone and take a picture of it, but now I don’t. Well, not unless it’s amazing. It’s a very easy, understandable, legible, realistic piece that has two things: its visual memories, it makes you think about home and comfort, and the opposite. It’s a piece in which people can read different things when they look at it. I am not going to dictate what people see.


Times have changed since 2015, when you first worked on Matrizia. Has your perception of Matrizia changed since then?


Before our conversation I went to my computer and I wanted to get some files, but I couldn’t get everything because I’m at home now, maybe if I was in the studio I could have found it.


I see drawings that I did, and I see things that you cannot replicate, you cannot pretend to sketch something for the first time if you sketched it before. I really like the energy of the initial birth of the idea, but I’m very happy to look at it and give it a restart. In those days we were also very excited about the animation of the 3-D file that is only a line drawing. When it was new, it was very exciting visually as a drawing, but now we’ve done so much of it that it doesn’t excite us. We take it for granted.


You mentioned the concept of “Ready-made” and “Found Object”, do you think that there’s an element of provocation in Matrizia’s design?


I don’t know about provocation. I think it’s good to have to do things that resonate with other stuff and take you to different places, different understandings. It all has to do with personality, the time you developed, you grew up etc. and yes, Ready-made, for all sorts of reasons, has been a very important part of what I have done, even the first thing I did with Moroso, the Big Easy. It wasn’t exactly a ready-made but was sort of paraphrasing a club chair, paraphrased and over-stuffed. It was partly mocking it, not ridiculing it, and partly a parody, but not completely.


So, it has an element of Ready-made in it but has more to do with the idea of the physical object. Later, when it became an iconic piece, if I may say so about a piece of mine, it became an obvious piece that I could use as a Ready-made. A Ready-made but made by me.


Thank you for your time Ron. As always, this hes been a fascinating talk that leaves me waiting for the next time we get a chance to have another one. Until then, I wish you all the best. Ciao Ron!

2015 Matrizia Prototype

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Ron Arad

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1951, Ron Arad has defiantly placed himself on the edge between sculpture, architecture, and industrial design since the 80’s, with a never-ending creative process capable of mixing artisanal techniques and advanced industrial technology...

Past Exhibition

ill at ease

The Squares and Courtyards of Milano

The living room, a place of comfort, relaxation and synonymous with “home”. A place of sharing: time, space and stories. “ill at ease”, curated by Luisa Ausenda and Caterina Taurelli Salimbeni, brings the works of 5 renowned artists together into one itinerant experience, a fantastical living room open to all. The artists involved in this happening include Ron Arad, Hermine Bourdin, Khaled El Mays, Diango Hernández, and Six N Five. Their work, one in physical form the other in digital form, furnishes and transforms this shared space into a something between a living room and an art exhibition that doesn’t seclude itself from the public, rather it joins it, thus subverting the dynamics of the Milan Fuorisalone, one of the most decentralized events in the world.

18th April | 5VIE | Piazza Tomasi di Lampedusa, Milano

19th April | Ninfa | via dell'Aprica 16, Milano

20thApril | Dynamicart Museum | via delle Erbe 2/A, Milano

21th April | Fondazione ICA | via Orobia 26, Milano

22th April | Pirelli HangarBicocca | via delle Chiese 2, Milano

18→ 22.4.2023